From confidence to tactics, PA runners walked away from Millrose better for the experience

Not everything went exactly as planned for the PA athletes at the 2010 Millrose Games this past Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

But for the Abington 4x800, Sara Sargent, Tom Kehl and Tom Mallon, the experience was worth every one of the 5-1/2 laps for the 800 and 11 laps for the mile.

Abington started the night for PA by ambushing the top two 4x800 teams in the US.

Following the race, Associate National Editor Aaron Rich talked with the guys...

Video Interview with Abington 4x800 after their 8:01.00 win at Millrose.

The race recap was written by Contributing Editor Geoff Decker.

    In last year’s Nike Outdoor National, running under the club team Glenside Track Club in the Nike     Outdoor Nationals, Abington finished 5th in 7:45.69 but they were perhaps overlooked coming     into their race at the Garden. On the second leg, however, Charles Ross ran one of the fastest splits     of the day, 1:56.3, to gap a stacked field and Abington never looked back. They won in 8:01.00     and won comfortably over the two top-ranked relay teams in the country, CBA, which finished     second in 8:06.22 and Haddonfield, which finished third in 8:08.68.

    Despite his team’s dominating performance, coach Brian Deck wasn’t overly impressed. “We     thought we could win this but we didn’t run a great race,” Deck said. “We were surprised we     weren’t pushed more.”

    Haddonfield came into the race at less than 100 per cent, according to their star senior, Jonathan     Vitez. He said that the team’s anchor leg had a foot injury and had to take time off the last couple     weeks. “He’s probably not as fit as he liked to be,” Vitez said. “He was debating whether or not to     run, but you can’t pass up running here.”

Sara Sargent didn't back down. But the early pace took its toll.

By Don Rich

Sargent had qualified for the elite field with her first sub-five race at the Molloy Stanner Games at the Armory.

Not backing down from her front-of-the-pack style, Sargent put her nose into the race, even though it was quick. "It's hard to calculate the pace with the short laps", she said shortly after the race.

Sargent persisted with the pace that was being set by the more experienced runners. Her goals at the start were to avoid being boxed in, and to stay in the top four. "It's going well" she thought during the first 800.

But when the half-way split of 2:23 hit - even though she didn't necessarily hear it - her legs felt it.
"My legs shut down. And mentally I could not hold on."

She dropped off the pace, and finished 9th in 5:03.46.

But as with the other elite race experiences during her first prep competitive year, Sargent was taking it as a learning experience. "I knew I was physically able to go, but obviously, I have to work on that." (mental aspect).

Looking ahead, Sargent is hoping to win and PR in both the 3000 and the Mile at the PTFCA Indoor State meet, and then to go to the Nike Indoor Nationals.

The video interview with Sargent following her Millrose Mile.

Tom Kehl won't be surprising anyone from now on.

By Don Rich


2009-2010 miler semi-surprise Tom Kehl of Father Judge took a spot at the front of the elite field from the gun, mainly for strategic reasons. "I just wanted to be up there for any move." Kehl had run a 4:13 to qualify, and spent the week preparing mentally for the short track and reviewing the resumes of his competition.

Race day he took advantage of the opportunity and the venue and soaked in the experience. "I just looked around and was thinking how awesome it is to race at a historical meet."

Just as with Sargent, when the pace accelerated, Kehl was gapped. He persevered, and finished 4th in his second best mile ever, a 4:20.16.

Kehl doesn't have to wait long for another elite mile - because he is in the boys elite race at the Reebok Indoor Games this coming Saturday in Boston. With eight laps to the mile, he's sure to feel more at home.

Tom Mallon's learning curve in the mile is pretty steep. But he's a quick study.

By Don Rich


Literally and figuratively, Central Bucks South senior Tom Mallon is quick. A confirmed 800 runner, Mallon has thrived on the tired from the start - bust it all loose in the last 300 meters of pain of the race four-lapper indoors and two-lapper, outdoors. Last year he split 1:49 at Penn and again at the PIAA State Outdoor Champs where he anchored his team to a state all-time best of 7:33.48.

But that team is graduated, and it left Mallon with some opportunities during his senior year to shine individually.

Built like a miler; as many have told him; he followed his coach's advice and stepped up his training for the double 800.

"It's a completely different race, tactically and from a pain perspective," he says.

"With the mile, the legs get heavy and the lungs scream. But with the 800, you're tired from the get-go, but you know it's going to end soon. You can almost see the finish."

So moving up to the mile was not just physical, it was a mental leap for Mallon, as well.

Add the fact that he had not run any seriously competitive miles before he qualified for the Millrose Games Mile at Armory's Hispanic Games in January, and his 4:16 time there is even more remarkable.

So coming into Millrose, he was not putting too much pressure on himself. He knew his height would not be an advantage on the shorter track. He did some striders before the race just to test it out. "The race felt longer than a mile usually feels," she shared. "But it felt faster with the short laps."

Mallon had decided to stay on the back of the pack and see what he could do with his kick. "Negative splits have sort of been my speciality," he concedes.

His kick didn't disappoint, and he finished 5th, less than a second from Kehl, both in the 4:20's.

"I wasn't disappointed with my finish. I just don't yet have the knowledge you need to change strategy in the middle of a (mile) race. It is a different way of thinking than the 800."

This weekend at a TFCAofGP meet, Mallon hopes to help his team's DMR qualify for the state meet. At states, he wants to double in the mile and the 800.

Post-season, he has a big goal of going after the recently set National Prep Record in the 800 of 1:49.21, set at NSIC by Robby Andrews of New Jersey in March, 2009.

Once outside, Mallon is hoping to qualify for the mile at the Penn Relays, and then, if he stays healthy and "everything lines up," he hopes to go after the 23-year-old PA all-time 800 best of 1:48.8, held by Paul Vandegrift.

As for Vandegrift's state and PA 1600 meter record of 4:03.22, Mallon quips, "That one's pretty safe."